Kolkata: India's leading off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin can use the Indian Premier League as a platform to revive his dwindling career in limited overs cricket, feels veteran batsman Subramaniam Badrinath.
Having bought Ashwin for Rs 7.60 crores, Kings XI Punjab, who have been the perennial under-achievers of IPL, handed the Indian limited overs 'discard' a big responsibility to lead the side.
Ashwin, who has 100 wickets in 111 IPL games at an economy of 6.55, will lead a side boasting some of the biggest hitters in Aaron Finch, David Miller, Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Yuvraj Singh.
"I've played a lot of cricket with him. I know him as a person, as a friend. He'll be looking to do something, he will be looking at this as a challenge," the former Tamil Nadu skipper said of Ashwin who made his Ranji debut under his captaincy.
"I think captaincy will give him that edge, a motivation to do something extra. You never know maybe he can lead Kings XI to a title, with an extraordinary season and his name will start coming up in the limited overs cricket."
Ashwin had finished with one wicket from three matches with an average of 167.00 in last year's Champions Trophy and played his last ODI during the West Indies tour in same month of June.
"I don't think it would have come at a better time for him. He's at that stage of his career, where he should look beyond his own cricket. Not just performing as a bowler, but what can he do more."
"It's a great opportunity and has come at a right time. knowing him, he will look to take this up as a challenge. It's not going to be easy but he will be up for it."
Kings XI Punjab have managed to reach the playoffs only twice.
In the first season, they reached the semi-finals and secured the third spot while their best show was a runners-up finish in 2014. A commentator in the upcoming IPL, Badrinath picked Chennai Super Kings and KKR as the two best franchises.
"KKR and CSK are probably the best franchises, as far as teams go, I can vouch for that. Only time can tell what will happen going into the tournament."
Former champions CSK will be returning to IPL after two seasons, but Badrinath felt the core of the team remains the same, so Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co would not face many problems.
"Coming back after two years will won't be easy. But CSK has players who have been with the past. It would not be a new team altogether even though they are coming back after a break. In Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, the core group is the same. They will be able to gel."
KKR's newly-appointed skipper Dinesh Karthik's last-ball six to win the Trination T20I final against Bangladesh in Sri Lanka has been the buzzword before the IPL.
Refusing to compare Dhoni with Karthik, he said, "Dhoni is a brand on his own. He's the best wicketkeeper. I don't think you can ever compare Dhoni and Karthik. It's not fair. MS is a special cricketer, he's a legend.
"But the innings will definitely help Karthik. He will carry that confidence. He's been playing well for the last couple of years. It's about how he manages the team.
"Bulk of the batting in the middle order will depend on Karthik, Nitish Rana and Andre Russell. These three have to take the bulk of the load.